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First time to remember for Baker

July 23, 2018
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Before this year, Ed Baker had never participated in the sport of triathlon. And prior to Sunday, the former cross country and track athlete from Harvard had never experienced the punishment that 140.6 miles of racing can dole out during an Ironman event.

Competing for the first time at an Ironman distance, the 39-year-old Baker came out on top Sunday, winning the men's age group and overall title in the 20th Ironman Lake Placid.

Baker, a 2001 graduate of Harvard and a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, turned in the fastest finish time among the 2,307 triathletes who started the race. In the first Ironman and third triathlon in his new career, Baker had the fastest time of the day, finishing in 9 hours, 18 minutes and 28 seconds. During the race, Baker gradually erased deficits during the swim, bike and run legs to finish ahead of every other participant. He topped the men's field and even beat the time of women's professional winner, Heather Jackson, by 21 seconds.

Article Photos

Ed Baker runs along Sentinel Road during the marathon leg in Sunday’s Ironman Lake Placid. The 39-year-old Harvard grad turned in the fastest time of the day while competing for the first time at the full Ironman distance.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

Baker gave much of the credit for his success to a coach, and added that he couldn't have selected a better course than Lake Placid for his first foray into the Ironman distance.

"I've raced two half Ironman races but this is my first Ironman, and I heard Lake Placid is the place to do it," Baker said. "I've heard amazing things about this course and I was not let down. I think the most important thing was great coaching. My coach Matt Dixon, he taught me the ropes and prepared me well for the race. I wouldn't have been able to do the race without him. My coach says just focus on the process and let the outcome happen.

"His advice to me today was 'Treat today like a hard training day. Don't race it because if you race your first Ironman you're going to be sorry.' Other than that it's just being able to make myself suffer for nine-plus hours."

While most competitors in the Ironman ran in tri suits, Baker wore shorts and a crimson shirt with a large H on the front. And on the back was the name of his former coach at Harvard.

"The back of my jersey says "Franks Old Boys" in honor of our coach Frank Haggarty," Baker said. "He doesn't coach there anymore but a bunch of alumni got these jerseys to honor him. I decided to take off my tri suit and put on running shorts and a singlet because that's just what I'm used to. I thought if I'm going to spend three hours out there it might as well be something I'm comfortable in."

Baker is a native of Palo Alto, California and wound up staying in the Boston area after graduating from Harvard. His past two jobs were with Uber and Facebook, and he's now giving training and competing as a triathlete a shot. His first triathlon was a 70.3-mile race in April in Texas, his second covered same distance about a month ago at Mount Tremblant, and now, after winning Sunday, he's earned a surprise trip to the Ironman World Championships in Kona as an age-group athlete. Baker said his wife is expecting their fourth child in September, but added she's given him permission to head to Hawaii to pursue his career. And next month, Baker will be on his way to Denmark for his second Ironman distance race.

"I just came here to finish it and have a good time. It's still kind of hard to believe. I definitely wasn't expecting this," Baker said. "I love mixing it up and having swimming, biking and running. I was a runner my whole life and it makes it more interesting to do three sports and not just one."

"I also like as I'm getting older, having some of those lower impact sports like swimming and cycling. It's easier on the joints.

"I'm just excited for the next one. I'm going to Copenhagen next month," Baker added. "My wife is due with our fourth kid in September, but she told me that I can go to Kona in October as long as I help for the first month after our kid is born."



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